SLIDER

How I ended up going on holiday with a complete stranger

Monday, 16 January 2017

It all began one day in December. I’d had my last trip of the year, it was cold and horrible in London and the festive anxiety had started to set in again. I spend the evening crying to my mum about how much I wanted to travel in 2017 (I actually ended up doing the same thing last night) but I didn’t even know where to start, neither of us did. Even though it was what I wanted to do, I was scared about going anywhere without Andrew, not staying in a 5* hotel and having to use the public transport - I just couldn’t see how I was going to do it, my big dream of travelling just seemed impossible.

I went to work the next day feeling just as sad, I had another little cry at lunch but pulled myself together for an arrangement that evening. I’d been invited to a travel meet up, just some girls who were all on their travels but in London that evening. Some were working here, some were studying here and some had just arrived that morning so I was looking forward to chatting to people who were already living my dream and getting some advice from people who know more about this whole thing that I do.

Obviously I told them my worries and they had so much encouragement and useful information for me. Then, one girl, Selena then said she was going away that weekend and that I should come with. As per usual, I said yeah sure but this time something was different, I actually meant it. This was the push I needed to try out this travelling thing. Turns out the flights were all booked up that weekend and with Christmas around the corner, I dropped her a message saying I’m not free until 7th Jan now and conceded that it wasn’t going to happen and I should just forget about it. Four minutes later I got a reply saying “shall we just book that then?”

So, last weekend, that’s what we did. We got on a plane, and then a train. Checked into a hostel and explored a town together. Not only was I fine with all those  silly things that I had worried about,m but I was fine with doing them whilst it was -10 degrees! We did a walking tour of the town, went shopping and ate traditional polish food for dinner. It was a sweeping weekend, being back in time for work on Monday morning but it was loads of fun! 
So there it it. The story of how I grabbed an opportunity to travel (albeit a small one) with both hands; and now travelling has taken over. It's all I think about and I plan to travel more than ever in 2017!

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How to spend Three Days In Hong Kong

Monday, 9 January 2017

I have always loved all things oriental so Hong Kong (and my first visit to China) in September was a huge deal for me. Everyone that we’d spoken to prior said that three days was the perfect amount of time there but now that I've done it, I disagree. In hindsight, I would have loved an extra day, there were so many more places to visit, restaurants to eat at and roads to explore; there is a lot more of Hong Kong that I want to see. So until next time, I thought I'd take you through what we did..
DAY 1: Hong Kong Island
 We were pretty jet-lagged when we arrived so after checking into our room on the 22nd floor of The Harbour Grand Hotel, the first thing that we did was take a nap. By the time we woke up just after midday, the rain had stopped and we could see the amazing view over Kowloon from our window.
We found the tube is the fastest way to travel around so we hopped on just outside our hotel at Fortress Hill and headed to Central. From there, we caught the star ferry to Kowloon in search of lunch. Our first day was all about getting to know Hong Kong so we just wandered the streets until we found somewhere. We ended up in a little café down a side alley; it was full of locals so we thought it’d probably be a good choice. Wanting to try something new we pointed at a picture on the wall and ordered that with some rice; neither of us could work out what part of the animal it came from but it was really delicious.

The evening was spent drinking cocktails in Lang Kwai Fong (the backpackers nightlife street as we were told). We started off at a table outside on the street and finished on the roof of Ce La Vi in our trainers and shorts. The view from up there was amazing and since it was dark, the whole city was lit up with bright lights and animations up and down the buildings. 
DAY 2:  Lantau Island
 The plan for day two was to visit the big Buddha on Lantau Island but of course things don’t always go to plan. We caught a boat over to the island instead of getting on the tube again and decided to drive up and get a cable car down but half way up the mountain we came to a police block; there had been a landslide so we couldn’t drive any further. Andrew suggested getting the cable car up but after our last cable car disaster (that time in Santorini and the power plant blew up) I wasn’t too sure especially when the mountain was falling apart beneath it. Obviously it was a bit of a pain but we didn’t let it ruin our day – we were only in hong kong for 3 days and I wanted to make the most of it. Lantau island is known for two things; The Big Buddah. And Disneyland so we hopped back on the tube and caught the Disney Express. Yep, it has its own line.
We arrived at about 2pm and paid £54 each for a day ticket which gave us until 7.30pm. It was pouring rain by this point but neither of us cared; we love Disneyland, it was still warm and it meant that the park was almost empty – we queued at each ride for 5 minutes at most! The park is very compact and the 5ish hours that we had there was the perfect amount of time to do it all. We had enough time to ride everything and still go back to do some again! I loved how all my favourites were the same but with a little twist to them, it made everything even more exciting! I won’t ruin it for you but Thunder Mountain had a big surprise that we totally weren't expecting, it’s a small world was huge and the haunted mansion had a whole different story behind it.
We left at closing, ran back to the hotel to grab some more cash and caught the train straight to Central. So many people had mentioned the star ferry at night and this was the perfect opportunity; we got the see Hong Kong sparkle.
At the other side, we ate at a Chinese restaurant called Peking Garden (that’s what my local is called haha). We had heard their duck was pretty good so that's what we ordered. Unlike my local, five minutes later, there was a woman in a surgical mask standing at our table slicing up a whole duck right in front of us. Worried that we might still be hungry (like that was going to happen), we ordered a plate of special fried rice too. The more time I spent in this city, the more I loved it.
DAY 3: Kowloon
  On our last day I felt like I got the see the real Hong Kong. We took a map and navigated the city ourselves starting with a trip to Man Mo Temple and a little wander around SoHo. We came across the escalator and stopped off for a fresh mango juice.
Our next stop was back to Kowloon for lunch at Aqua. Again it was super high up and we ate lunch looking over Hong Kong Island. We both ordered the most delicious udon noodle soup with thinly sliced Wagyu beef. Swiftly followed by some ice cream.
All fuelled up, it was time to hit the markets. We walked along Nathan road which was absolutely crazy; it was like a motorway lined with shops overflowing with people – quite an experience on its own! Sadly we only had time to do one market - we decided on the Ladies Market and I was pleased that it was the one that we did get to see but I wish we had had time to see the others as well. The market was full of all the sorts of rubbish you buy from China on Ebay and I loved it! Just as you got the end of the block, there was another street in front of you bursting with more stalls.
We came home with a new phone case, a silk dressing down, a tea set for Andrews’s sister, a load of ornaments for him, a packet of pens, some magnets; the list goes on! I really got into the bartering and when the women weren’t getting angry (lol) and shouting at me, I managed to save so much money!

Whilst we were pretty exhausted by the time we finally got to end of the never ending market, we wanted to make the most of eating guilt free Chinese food every day so for our last evening so we ate at the hotel’s restaurant. A plate of sweet and sour pork, some more special fried rice and a bottle of champagne to celebrate our time in Hong Kong!

Have You Been To Hong Kong?

My 2016 travel roundup

Friday, 30 December 2016

This year has been a bit of a big deal for me when it comes to travel. I didn't start it any different to usual but coming to the end of it now, I have well and truly caught the travel bug. I booked my first Kuoni holiday which totally changed my outlook on terrible travel agents, I went on my first press trip and I managed to squeeze in a few European city breaks as well! I posted my first travel post in May and from there I was hooked and this year, I travelled more than ever before and I loved writing about it here afterwards! Now I'm set on seeing the world in any way I can!
Madrid 
 In May, I went on a little city break with Andrew and his family. We visited Madrid for two days with his parents and his sister (who lives in France) and her fiance. They split off for a few days of exploring the parks and other attractions whilst Andrew and I headed into the center and spent most of our time on the hunt for some of the best hotels and rooftop bars in the city. We did hop on a tour bus for a couple of hours as well which was fun! We've done a few red buses together now.
Magaluf
 Next up was our, whats becomming, annual trip to the ME hotel in Mallorca at the end of June. We've done this short trip twice now and I would do it again in 2017 because it's a holiday that we know we both love. On our first day, we usually buy a giant rubber ring and spend most of our time there chilling in the sea with it. The rest of our holiday is then, in a bikini, split between eating paella (yes, every night) and drinking cocktails at the hotel bar.
Stena Line Blogger Trip
 The week after we got back from Magaluf, I was off to Holland on my first press trip. I had a fabulous weekend away with the girls as we drove between Germany and Holland, sampling lots of local delicacies and staying in a brand new hotel. On Monday morning at 6.30am, we got off of our Stena Line ferry and hopped on the train straight to work!
Hotel Gotthard Press Trip
 July was a little bit crazy because three days after that, I was off to the airport to catch a plane to Switzerland and then drive to The Hotel Gotthard in Lech, Austria. It was an adventurous three days that pushed me out of my comfort zone and allowed me to experience lots of new things. After cold days out exploring the mountains, each evening, I enjoyed retreating back to my warm, cosy hotel room and taking a long hot bath! 

Hong Kong
 After a couple of months spent enjoying an amazing summer in London, it was getting closer and closer to our big trip. Andrew and I fell in love with Asia after our trip to Thailand and couldn't wait to go back and see more. This time, we flew to Hong Kong and spent three days there before getting back on a plane to Bali. In Hong Kong we had a few very busy days exploring the temples and street markets, navigating the underground and spending the day at Disney; all fueled by lots of delicious Chinese food. 
Ubud, Bali 
We spent our time in Bali between Ubud first and then Seminyak. Ubud is the most amazing place and although we were only there for one day, I think it was my favourite location of the year! It was such an amazing cultural place and incredibly romantic, I was so pleased to be there with Andrew. I wish we had stayed longer although we certainly made the most of the one day we had.


Seminyak, Bali
 Semintak was the last stop on our holiday this year and was mostly a chance to relax. We stayed at another amazing villa with a private pool meaning we had lots of slow mornings by the pool followed by a chilled out afternoon exploring the town and looking for the best places to eat lunch and a couple of temple visits too. I think my highlight here was the in-villa BBQ that we had one afternoon - actually, all of the food we had here was incredible!


Malaga Press Trip
 My last trip abroad in 2016 was to Malaga with the Spanish tourism board. I've never been away for a bit of winter sun before but I really enjoyed taking a trip later in the year when it was cold and miserable here. Our days were full of exploring towns, taking far too many photos, non-stop eating and lots of laughter. I still have a few more posts on this to go up in early 2017!
After that, there were a couple of domestic trips before coming back home for Christmas.

Southampton 
Soton was first and we drove down after work on a Friday. After a burger in the car (classy, I know) we were ready to hit a club as soon as we arrived! Andrew and I stayed in a Premier inn so we went back to a lovely big bed afterwards while the rest of the boys slept on the floor at our friends house. The next day the football was on so whilst they headed to the pub, I took the opportunity to explore the Christmas Market there and do some shopping at The West Quay - which is a pretty amazing shopping center might I add! It was huge. 
Birmingham
aaannd my last trip was to Birmingham for the Christmas market. It was a lovely weekend and kind of inspired me to explore my own country a little bit more in 2017!
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6 London Hotels I Stayed At In 2016

Thursday, 22 December 2016


You'd never have guessed that Andrew and I both work in London with the amount of weekend breaks we take here too. What can I say, we love our city and like spending time exploring and enjoying it as well as working here five days a week. Any special ocassion is an opportunity to visit a new hotel and we managed six stays in 2016, most of which were brand new places for us. We stayed in some really lovely rooms so this year it was quality over quantity. 

 The St Martins Lane Hotel: 
This year started with Andrews Birthday in January at The St Martins Lane Hotel. Already huge fans of the other two Morgans Hotels in London we were excited to finally book a couple of nights here and we were both very impressed! It is similar to The Sanderson, very white and eary but much cheaper and in another great location - Covent Garden. A definite new addition to our favourite local hotels. 
Montcalm Marble Arch: 
Next was Valentines day in February and we stayed with the Montcalm Marble Arch. The room we stayed in was pretty amazing in terms of size - we had two adjoining rooms to ourselves but the hotel wasn't as modern as I would have liked. The deal we got was really good though so we did enjoy it and all of the extras (spa, strawberries, champagne breakfast), it's just not somewhere we would go back to again.
 The Mondrian Hotel: 
Easter was very exciting because we decided to go back to our favourite hotel in London - The Mondrian. We first stayed there for Valentines 2015, fell in love with it and have been back five times since; the rooms, the spa, the food and the overall vibe have been incredible each time not to mention we have been very lucky to have stayed in their incredible river view apartment suites (twice). This year, we booked two nights over the Easter break and stayed in a loft suite which was also great.
The Rosewood Hotel: 
There was a little bit of international travel from then onward so our next stay in London was in August and it was a big one. Andrew had planned this one as a surprise and decided we were going to stay at two different hotels over my birthday weekend. Our first stop was The Rosewood hotel which is somewhere I've wanted to visit for a very long time. This hotel stands apart from any of the other we have stayed in. The hotel itself is in an incredible Edwardian Grade II-listed building but the rooms were amazingly designed to still fit with this whilst being very modern. This was probably our most expensive night but we both really enjoyed our stay. 
The South Place Hotel: 
The next day we were off to a new hotel in Liverpool street called The South Place and I think this would be our favourite new find of 2016. Again, it is very modern and quirky - I'd love to go back and explore the rest of the hotel. Andrew booked us a studio which meant we had a free run of the mini bar in the room. I had never been in this situation before so took full advantage of trying out all the snacks and drinks, and anything I didn't have time to eat went straight in the came for later. The room also had a huge marble bathtub for two and large seating area. Isn't it funny how my photos got better though the year. 
M By Montcalm: 
and our last overnight trip into London for the year was in September for our 7 year anniversary. We decided to try the Montcalm again, although this time, we stayed at their little sister hotel in modern 'Tech City' aka Shoreditch and this one we would go back to! Its that crazy pointed building thats popped up on city road and everything in the room is controlled by Ipad. They have a bath butler service which involved us watching TV in bed whilst someone came to the room, poured us a glass of champagne and disappeared off to the bathroom to prepare a rose petal bath. 

Have you stayed at any of these hotels?

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